See Scenes from Taylor Swift’s First Official U.S. Date for 1989 World Tour
Last week, I had the unfathomable opportunity to meet Taylor Swift and see her kick off the U.S. leg of her 1989 World Tour in Bossier City, La. This is that story.
It's taken me a week to let it all soak in. Arriving at the Century Tel Center in Bossier early, we were given bracelets and escorted backstage to 'Loft 89.'
I've not been to many 'Meet and Greet' sessions before, but from what I understand most artists sit behind a table, and fans walk up one by one to say hello and the artist will sign a photo, take a photo and you move on. That's not what happens with Taylor Swift.
We walked into a room tent that was designed to look like a loft apartment. The fabric was printed with white bricks and wood posts to create the illusion that we were in a chic New York loft. There were comfortable couches, an ottoman, pub table, a photo booth and food drinks. Some of Taylor's staff was there to greet us, and gave each of us a press photo.
We mingled for several minutes before Taylor breezed in with her entourage which happened to include her parents. She sweet greeted each person with a hug and visited with them warmly welcoming them to her concert.
I don't often get starstruck, but when she walked up and hugged me, I froze. All I could say to her was 'It's a pleasure to meet you.' She smiled, said you, too and asked if she could sign my photo and who to make it out to. She even kindly asked how I spell my name. She was gorgeous and just as gracious as she appears to be.
Shortly after she exited, her mother 'Mama Swift,' took us on a backstage tour. She showed us the incredible video area where a team of people orchestrate what is seen on Taylor's giant video wall each night. Then she showed us the back of that wall which is comprised of 250 40" TVs all connected together. She told us about their enormous crew, and how they also hire local crew members to pull everything together in each city.
She was unbelievably down to earth, and the epitome of a proud mother. She told us how she wanted to Taylor to grow up riding horses, but how at an early age she appeared in a children's musical and it was clear that she was on a different path. We saw the costumes beneath the stage and several guitars. She showed us the elevator shaft where Taylor and her dancers would be lifted onto the stage, and at the end she took photos with everyone and hugged each of us.
I attempted to make up for my tongue-tied inability to speak with Taylor by sharing with her mom how impressed I was with her daughter. It was very clear that the apple did not fall far from the tree. Her generosity of time, caring demeanor and sincerity were evidently mirrored by her daughter.
While everyone was making their way to their seats, they had music playing that fit right alongside Taylor's 1989. The playlist included the Fine Young Cannibals, and just before she took the stage we heard Calvin Harris (her latest alleged beau's) 'Feel So Close.'
The next thing we knew our bracelets began to light up, and the audience was sparkling throughout the stadium. The band began to play and Taylor appeared belting out 'Welcome to New York.' See for yourself.
The stage was set with park benches, lamp posts and the dancers were reading newspapers. The imagery on the video screen was New York skylines and scenes and Taylor was dressed in a wine colored skirt with black bra top and sequined jacket.
At the end of the song, she welcomed everyone to the 'first official tour date in the US.'
Then she went into 'New Romantics,' which I only got a few seconds of video during. I did manage to get all of 'Blank Space,' which starts about 6:20 into the video. Taylor was center stage with her male dancers scattered around her in door frames, and then shadowed behind 'blank spaces.'
Next she performed a steamy rendition of 'Trouble,' complete with shirtless back up dancers, and smoky video images. After which she visited with the audience. She thanked fans for coming not only from Louisiana, but also from Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and elsewhere. She complimented the fans by saying, 'You guys are so cute, it's crazy.'She went on to say,
'I haven't gotten to talk to you since I had an album called 1989 come out. So, thank you for caring about it. Thank you for buying it. Thank you for memorizing it and for wanting to be here tonight to celebrate it.'
She also announced that Vevo had just contacted her and that her fans had broken the record for all time most views of a video. She shared how special it was for her to meet Molly Ringwald at the Billboard Music Awards, because she grew up loving John Hughes movies, and then artfully introduced '2 AM.' See that moment about 24 minutes into the video. I only caught part of '2 AM' and a little bit of 'I Wish You Would.' Next she exited the stage for a wardrobe change, and we were introduced to her friends.
We saw a two minute video where Selena Gomez, Lily Aldridge, Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, Jamie King, Abigail Anderson, Haim and Lena Dunham describe how they met Taylor and share how they first heard 1989.
When Taylor next appears on stage, she is in a dress covered in tiny lights that change colors and flash off and on and surrounded by dancers carrying lighted umbrellas. The video wall appears to show rain drops and she performs 'How You Get the Girl.'
Next, her dancers appear with rolling doors and she performs 'I Know Places' in front of fantastic images of cages, foxes, vultures, fire and moons on the gigantic video wall.
She then rolls around on the stage while performing 'All You Had to do Was Stay.' I caught a short bit of 'Clean,' and that's where we first see what her 'propeller' stage is capable of. The stage props up out toward the audience, and Taylor begins to play her acoustic guitar.
The stage then levels out above the audience and begins to turn. Taylor fastens on a safety belt and croons while walking to the other end where her keyboard is stationed. She then tells the story of how she wrote 'Love Story' about two fictional characters, and then plays a new version of it that fits in the style of her 1989 album while spinning above fans on the floor.
Once the stage is lowered, she prances back to the main stage where she exits, changes into a leather jumpsuit and reappears to perform 'Bad Blood.' Her dancers are almost ninja-like climbing onto props, jumping and flipping off them. They carry her across the stage, and she sings through it all. The whole production felt like musical theater.
She exits again, and when the lights come back on she's behind a piano that looks like a silver shell and she's covered in sequins. She speaks to her fans again in a friendly direct manner and describes how romantic it is to look out at the fans and see a night sky. She performs 'Wonderland,' which I only caught a short part of that performance on video.
Next she's back on her feet to 'Out of the Woods.' The video wall is showing an enchanted woodland scene and towards the end of the song, dancers appear carrying giant paper airplanes, and finally she showers the crowd with white confetti.
To cap it all off, she closes with 'Shake it Off.' Dressed in a Royal Blue fringed skirt and top she and her dancers shimmy out onto the propeller stage, attached safety harnesses to anchors and dance several feet up in the air while she sings and they stage spins. See it all in the video above, and if you can get your hands on tickets to her show - go see it in person. It's truly amazing, beautiful and filled with whimsy!